Fair Use and the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002) allow teachers to use copyrighted materials for educational purposes. However, both, Fair Use and the TEACH Act, establish limitations on the use of copyrighted resources by educators. According to the Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance, there are four elements that need to be taken into consideration when determining whether the use of copyrighted materials is fair or not: the purpose of the use, the nature of the work, the amount or portion of the work used, and the effect of the use on the market. It is essential that online instructors have an understanding of these four Fair Use components and that they meet Fair Use criteria when using copyrighted resources. There is no better way to teach digital social responsibility than modeling how to respect and adhere to copyright laws.
The TEACH Act is particularly relevant in online distance learning. As it is stated in the Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance, TEACH facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for online distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions that meet the Act's qualifying requirements. Such requirements are:
- The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
- The use must be part of mediated instructional activities.
- The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
- The use must either be for ‘live’ or asynchronous class sessions.
- The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials “typically purchased or acquired by students,” or works developed specifically for online uses.
Since the creators of the copyrighted materials that can be used under TEACH are reputable academic institutions and publishers, the reliability of the content that can be delivered by online instructors is guaranteed. The TEACH Act allows to balance the rights of copyright holders with the need of online instructors to deliver reliable content to their online students.